Director Robert Rodriguez picks up where his successful independent debut El Mariachi left off with this slam-bang South of the Border action saga. Bucho (Joaquim DeAlmeida) is a wealthy but casually bloodthirsty drug kingpin who rules a seedy Mexican border town. Bucho and his men make the mistake of angering El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), a former musician who now carries an arsenal in his guitar case. Bucho was responsible for the death of El Mariachi's girlfriend and put a bullet through his fretting hand, making him unable to play the guitar. Bent on revenge, the musician-turned-killing machine arrives in town to put Bucho out of business, though he finds few allies except for Carolina (Salma Hayek), who runs a bookstore that doesn't seem to attract many readers. Desperado features supporting performances from Cheech Marin as a cynical bartender, Steve Buscemi as the cantina patron who sets up the story, and Quentin Tarantino as a man with a really terrible joke to tell.
After watching El Mariachi, it was easy to see the improvement in production values between the two. Not surprising, considering the difference in the price tag of the two films. But, as I pointed out in my El Mariachi review, money isn't everything.
Although better visually, Desperado benefits from better actors who bring more life to the characters. The overall effect, given another reasonable plot, is to make a much more polished looking film that deservedly did as well as it did at the box office.
The aforementioned plot is, essentially, the same as the first film when you boil it down - the Mariachi ends up killing a lot of no-good drug-dealers and warlords etc. - and there's the obligatory love interest. But although very similar, this movie was more enjoyable due to it's overall finish and style.
I originally watched this movie some years ago, long before I got to see the original El Mariachi, so I suppose I am a little biased in preferring this one to the the first in that Banderas IS the Mariachi as far as I was concerned. But not to knock the first movie, which tells us the early history of the Mariachi, and is a worthy film in its own right.
Desperado is good, if sometimes a little gory, fun. Nothing to analyse too much, just enjoy. If you have the opportunity, watch the original, then this one and things will make a lot more sense. Desperado has enough back history woven into it to make it a standalone film, but the overall experience is better watching the two back to back.
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